'Twas the Night


It is the night before Christmas. Like many parents, I am helping Santa do everything in my power to make Christmas morning magical.

I hope this holiday season you have had joy, that you have been surrounded by people you love. If you aren't able to be in the presence of your loved ones I hope that memories sustain you. 

This season is full of activities.

This season is full of crafting.

I thought I would write you a few times the last couple of weeks, but we have had every sickness under the sun. 

Last week, I even wrote a little poem about my family and the sickness. 

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house were sickies who like to wipe snot on my blouse.

Mom is so tired, the only way she shows that she cares. Is to line up the teacups on the counter so germs are not shared.

And the kids were snuggled up in the beds, one with tissue and one with a puke bucket right by their heads.

And mama is in her yoga pants writing this ditty, while dad is away for work again in another city.

I am here texting, emailing, and calling the schools while trying not to cause a clatter. I am praying for the kids to nap, for just ten minutes would really matter.

We have gone through the Netflix Christmas movies in a flash. We tore through so many there’s bound to be some screen time backlash.

The list of ailments between them both seem to grow. I think my weariness is surely starting to show.

When, what to my tired eyes should appear,
But another type of virus showing up here.

With my mother instinct so swift and quick,
I get out all the tools to help with the sick.

An arsenal of goodies the kids thought were lame,
But I persisted and called them by name;

”Honey, tissues, saltines, and soup!
Oh, ginger syrup, essential oils, and Lysol to boot!”

If children are bored mischief they will try,
When they are soon met with an obstacle it is mom’s mad sigh.

So down to the basement they flew. With hands full of toys, that they threw all a-strew.

And then, when I thought I could take no more. A big glass of milk spilled all over the floor.

As I drew in a deep breath, the kids were scurrying around. My yelling and screaming was by far the only sound.

The kids looked scared and it made me feel sad.
As we cleaned up the milk, I assured them they weren’t bad.

My lost temper was not something I could take back. But I could certainly make up for the empathy I lacked.

As we talked, their eyes twinkled and looked so merry. I couldn’t tell if it was the sickness that made their cheeks the color of berries.

I told them I was sorry for yelling and letting my temper show. They ask for some make-up toys and I promptly said “no.”

Christmas is coming much sooner than we think,
The sicknesses, the shopping, and the busyness are making me want to drink;

The pressure is mounting with each passing day,
My to-do lists are really making me cray.

But for today I focus on making my crew not sick,
Some R&R will hopefully do the trick;

The last minute shopping and the prospect of wrapping is something I dread. I have a cold too and I can hear the calling of my bed.

But for now, I am on mama duty and I will get to work. I really don’t want to be that bah humbug jerk,

And as I pop some Day-Quil and I start to blow my nose. The spirit of Christmas in my heart definitely arose;

It isn’t about the presents, the wrapping, or the tinsel. Christmastime is about something much more simple.

So as I am covered in a blankie and sipping some tea. Merry Christmas to all...may healthy loved ones surround you under the tree.

I am pretty sure another member of our family is getting sick. It. Never. Ends.

But these moments are fleeting. The moments of joy that only Santa can bring. 

Wishing you the best day ever. 

Every Day I'm Hustling


Oh my, I have missed you! Yes, you! I have been a crazy woman (more so than normal) and I need this space to come hang out it in...to write...to connect. I miss you, my community. 

I have missed three posts and this one is woefully late. I said in my last post that I wasn't given any excuses...life is hard and busy and we have to give ourselves a break. While I won't give you excuses I will give a couple of reasons. I am worried about what you think and I would hate for you to think I abandoned you. 

Camping at Cougar

Camping at Cougar

The last of swim lessons was last week and those classes took up half of our day. It was great, the kids had fun, but I am happy it is over. And we went straight from swimming lessons to camping for the weekend with a bunch of friends. That was seriously the best. I am not notoriously a good camper, but I had a blast and I don't think I complained once. Then we got home and my mom's cat, whom we all adored, died. She was 16 years old, but saying good-bye is never easy. And then it was my mom's birthday and today it is my mother-in-law's birthday. Life is busy. Oh, and then I am worried about nuclear war. See, there is a lot on my plate! 

Celebrating one Grandma

Celebrating one Grandma

The biggest thing that has taken my time, well besides my children, is a freelance project I have been working on. As much as I love you all, a paycheck is nice once in awhile. In fact I am hustling, I am hustling to make money wherever I can. I am trying to do part time work with freelance writing when I can. And I am opening a little booth in a local vintage shop. I am super excited about that. It will be mainly vintage finds AND it will have some handcrafted items by yours truly (fast craft time) and some of my talented husband's woodwork. I am really giddy about this. 

Why vintage? I have problem shopping, I love vintage finds and I really shouldn't keep all of them. It is crazy because I remember my mother taking me to junk shops, thrift stores, flea markets, etc. as a kid and I HATED it. I didn't want people to think I was poor, which we were. At the time I didn't get the thrill of the hunt and I didn't understand how cool it was to have these things that are a part of our collective past. I just thought they smelled weird and that I may literally die if someone saw me there. Flash forward to me racing to pick up something on the side of the road because I saw on Nextdoor or Craigslist that there was a free pile.  Now my husband is hiding his face while he waits in the car. 

Opportunity is in the eye of the beholder.
— Jen Sincero

I didn't go from hating to loving junk just like that. In my 20s I wore a ton of vintage clothes...as you do in your 20s. I remember there was this awesome thrift store and everything was like 99 cents on certain days. I had the most awesome coats and dresses during that time. And my 30s was filled with working at the church and helping the ladies run the Church Bazaar. So that is when I collected old bowls, vases, and various hankies, table clothes, etc. Then my mom moved back to Oregon and we started junking together and now I have become an addict. 

One of my first jobs when I young was working at a flea market for my grandfather, Papaw, who sold old 501s and old uniforms. It was a pretty run down place, but my Papaw liked doing it and he knew everyone there. I don't remember a ton about it besides eating junk food from the food court area and reading Sweet Valley High books. I do remember walking around and looking at the different booths. It was mesmerizing. 

So I am opening a little booth that may grow into a bigger booth. Who knows what is next? Right now I am just about the hustle. I don't know if it is the time of my life or that I am a stay at home mom or that I am reading You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero (which I LOVE...all the quotes today are from her and I will write about her in another post). But right now I feel the need to make some money. My husband does an amazing job supporting us all and we are soooooo grateful for that, but the truth is one income is hard. Anything I can do to help I am going to do. 

Doubts, fears, and other people’s rules are no match for a heart on a mission
— Jen Sincero

So I am hustling. I am doing things that I love...writing and collecting treasures, all while being with the people I love. This is my baby girl's last year of preschool...I don't want to miss a second of that. And as our son get's older I feel like he needs me around more not less. I am not sure about having it all, but I am going to find some ways that I can have what works best for us. 

So I am sorry I have been neglectful. I am telling you, I need the structure of school even though I will miss my babies immensely and I do love summer so. I need some order and routine. 

On Tuesday I move in to my booth and I will take lots of pictures. 

See you next week! Have a wonderful weekend!



Pulling it Together

I love getting gifts for people. Well, most people...I am looking at you Dad. He is the hardest to get gifts for...and I don't know if you know, but Father's Day is the weekend after next (THIS IS A CORRECTION FROM THE ORIGINAL POST). So I am still trying to button that gift down. 

But for everyone else I like getting gifts or making gifts. Making gifts is the best because you get to put part of yourself into the gift. You know, you get to put you love and care into the gift.

Unlike the time I was making something for a new baby and I used these crazy sharp fabric scissors I got from my husband (as a gift). Well, I seriously cut the tip of my finger off and bled all over what I made for the baby. That was a little more of myself than I wanted to give to a baby. Just FYI I didn't give the baby the bloody blankie.

Anywho, my daughter is about to be done with preschool (my son has a couple more weeks) and I have been thinking about end of year teacher gifts.  I usually like to make something for teachers...or have someone in our family make something. But I was at the store the other day and saw some adorable beach towels and I had a great idea.

For Making it Monday we are making a beach towel gift. But as I was researching other ideas with beach towels I saw my gift idea all over Pinterest. Turns out I wasn't original. Boo!

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.
— Mark Twain

First you need your supplies...

  • Beach Towels
  • Ribbon
  • Luggage Tags
  • Optional Other Items-Magazines, Sunglasses, Sunscreen, etc.


Step 1

Pick out some towels.  Oh my goodness, I love these towels. You can get some cutie ones on Amazon like the Pineapple towel, or the Hibiscus towel, or the Blue Blocks towels. The last ones are not to be confused with BluBlockers. 


Remember BluBlockers? Those things really worked! I used to wear my mom's.  I may try to pull those off again. Well, probably not, but they did make life so much clearer...or it was that I was a teenager. 

Step 2

Pick out some luggage tags. These are adorable and here are some like we got for our teachers.  You can use these as your gift tags as well.

Beach Towels

Step 3

Roll up the beach towels, put a ribbon, and a luggage tag on it. BUT you could add magazines, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. And bada bing bada boom you are done. Tell your teachers you love them and that you hope they have an AWESOME summer. 

Oh, BTW, I know my daughter is giving one of her teachers a poop emoji tag. It is an inside joke between them. One time Little Miss wanted to send a text to her teacher and she told me to include a poop emoji. I didn't, but I told her teacher and her teacher is quite funny and she said she wanted to send one to me for our daughter, but she didn't know if we would think that was appropriate/funny. Uh, we clearly think it is funny and funny matters...thus, the poop luggage tag. 

See you Wednesday!

Take a Picture It'll Last Longer

I hope your Mother's Day was awesome. I had an absolutely amazing Mother's Day. We had a brunch for several mamas and others in our life. My husband made Eggs Benedict for the mamas and a Benedict scramble for the rest of the crew. I am so bummed I didn't take any pictures, but I was too busy enjoying how freaking delicious the whole spread was. Here is the recipe for the Hollandaise sauce he tried for this particular meal. It was freaking delicious. 

However, the BEST part was how my husband utilized the kiddos in the morning. He had our son working as a sous-chef and the girls (Little Miss and a couple of friends) as a waitresses. They all had on aprons on. The waitresses took orders and delivered drinks and the sous-chef made fruit salads and provided refills. Afterwards the girls put on a performance and our boy was the producer. It was the best for sure. My husband is so great at including kids in activities and giving them jobs to help them feel needed and relevant. I am less great at that because I lose my patience. 

After the great brunch, I had a lllllooooonnnngggg nap, Mother's Day ended at a local nature reserve and it was magical. 

I take a ton of pictures. I always have...even when cameras had real film. Remember real film? Well now iPhones (and I assume other phones) take such amazing photos. We are doing a tiny photo Make it Monday.

Make it Monday.

  • Take pictures...all sorts of pictures...pictures of people, places, things. You can use them for cards, decorating, motivational quotes, etc.
  • Don't get hung up on getting the "right" shot...take several...you may be surprised on what treasures you may have captured. 
  • Here are some ideas of what to do with your own photos. Here are some more ideas for crafts and the such.

Have a great day and document your life! Life is beautiful!

I Would Like a Transfer

In the early 1980's I got one of the best gifts you can give a kid...a bike. And I didn't get any bike, we went to a real bike shop and picked out this beauty. 

I mean, c'mon what else could you want as a 6 or 7 year old? I guess that depends on the kid and the realities of their life, but for that time and place I was thrilled. I clearly remember pumping my bike (standing up and riding hard) and thinking I was invincible. During challenging times, I still picture that little girl and try to channel her. I can see it so clearly (I have a picture somewhere...like a real one)...I am wearing a white eyelet sundress and my bike was pink and I was invincible in that moment. I imagine this is how my badass little girl feels ALL THE TIME.

The coolest girl I know.

The coolest girl I know.

Anywho, back to me. I had this great bike and then Easter rolled around. I think I must have had my bike for a year at this time. I also think I was living at my Nana and Papaw's at the time, because I distinctly remember this happening in their backyard. Well, my Nana and I were coloring Easter Eggs with this gem.

Well, see on the box how the kit included 20 Easter transfers? Those transfers were suppose to go on the eggs we were decorating, but instead I decided to freestyle. I put ALL the transfers on my bike's beautiful banana seat. Immediately I regretted it. I had regret for a couple of reasons. One is because it didn't look that good, but the bigger reason is that it wouldn't be Easter ALL the time and I don't particularly love things that are out of season. (It used to be the thought of Christmas music any time other than December would make me so mad. Then I had kids. And they don't give a flip if it is April...they love Christmas carols, or to hear a Halloween story, or whatever else may be totally seasonally inappropriate.)

But kid me was so pissed I put these Easter transfers all over my beautiful long seat with the cutest little flowers on it. Since that time I seriously am not sure I have even touched another transfer until this weekend. And now we have Make it Monday!

Put those things on everything.

Put those things on everything.

First you need your supplies...

  • Transfers-I found a couple of sheets of transfers that were intended for Easter Eggs. (Oh no! Is it happening again?) The sheets were in the dollar section of Target, but you can get transfers all year long at the craft store. 
  • Things to stick transfers to-I used paper, glass, stone, and wood. They all worked great. (Oh, also you can use a banana seat as well if you so desire.)
  • Stick-The transfers came with a popsicle stick to rub the design onto objects. One of those bone folders would be perfect for this.
Step 1-Cut out what you want to use.

Step 1-Cut out what you want to use.

Step 1

Cut out your transfers. You don't have to do what they are intended for...you do you.  

Step 2-Honestly I may have this upside down.

Step 2-Honestly I may have this upside down.

Step 2

Peel off the paper (if there is some protecting the transfer paper). Since the transfer paper is slightly tacky it helps adhere it to your item. Press down to help it stick...and hold it in place for Step 3. 

Step 3-Rub it (you can't make that less awkward).

Step 3-Rub it (you can't make that less awkward).

Step 3

You seriously just rub the transfer paper like crazy. You can slowly lift up the paper to see if stuck to the item. And if not put it back on and rub over the design again. (Kind of like a temporary tattoo). Sometimes the design might "jump" a little or it might rub off it  wasn't attached good enough. Seriously it can make it have charm if it isn't perfect...try not to get crazy about it. It is a fast craft you are doing afterall.

I am going to be honest, I LOVE this fast craft. I loved it when I was a kid and I love it even more now since I have a better handle on WHERE to put these little cuties. So I think I will be searching for some non-Easter transfers to see what I can make next. I hope you have fun with this Make it Monday too!

Doing Your Job

Our kids are obsessed with my job, or lack thereof. I have been a full time stay at home mom for three years (this month actually). My son barely remembers me working outside of the home and my daughter only has memories of me being with her. And yet she is skeptical that this is what I do. So anytime I do ANYTHING for anyone...freelance work, volunteer work, blogging...she exclaims "I KNEW you didn't just watch us." Well, BTW I don't just "watch" them. But that is a tangent for another day. My main job (along with my husband) is raising kind, funny, and creative kids. Everything else is just gravy. 

Spread it

Spread it

Today I am going to go thank my doctor and the nurses, CNAs, and whoever else works on the floor I was on in the hospital almost 2 1/2 months ago. I feel bad it has taken me so long, but I am superstitious so I waited until I was 100% in the clear (and also I am a procrastinator). But yesterday I went to a couple of grocery stores and I filled up on snacks for the hospital staff. I mean, who doesn't like snacks? Weirdos, that is who. 

Why should I thank these people who are getting paid to do their job? Because it is the nice thing to do, it is part of being a polite society, and it will make them feel appreciated. Who doesn't want to feel appreciated? Probably those weirdos again.  

I come from a family of nurses...it can be pretty hard work...especially if you work with patient care. I was on the Cancer floor when I was in the hospital. I didn't have cancer...not a day goes by that I don't think about that and how lucky I am. I don't have cancer. I didn't have cancer. I am fine. But healthcare providers work with people that have cancer, that have other horrible diseases, or injuries, or a million other things that can send you to the hospital. That is a hard job...no matter how much you get paid.

Sure there can be some crappy nurses and jerky doctors out there...they are people and some people suck. But I am just going to say from the moment I was admitted into the hospital until the time I was released I had the pleasure to be with some people who really kicked ass at their job. They do hard and dirty work and they don't get a lot of appreciation. Not that people who are there are rude...when you don't feel well you can unintentionally be less than pleasant. It isn't your fault and it isn't the nurses' fault...it just is. So if I can help spread some kindness, why wouldn't I jump at the chance? 

As a country we have had a lot of conversations about healthcare. Don't think healthcare matters? Try paying for your medical bills on your own if God forbid something happened to you or someone you love. My hospital bill alone would have put us in serious financial trouble if we didn't have insurance. And still we will be paying for the care I had for awhile and we are one of the lucky ones...we have good coverage. Yes, the current healthcare system isn't perfect, but all people deserve care...whether or not they can afford it. 

We are called to take care of one another...by God, if your faith allows...if not, then I don't judge, but you are still called to look after your brothers and sisters because we share this world together. Remember how we are all apart of the universe? We share this space and time together. We are connected. We are family. So what do you do in a family? You take care of each other. 

Once upon a time I did have a career. I worked at a church for almost 15 years, and 10 of those years I was a minister. One of my favorite scriptures and the one I use as my moral guide is in Matthew (New Testament...duh).

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.

“Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply,
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.’
— Matthew 25:35-40 New International Version (NIV) BIble


Well, nurses/CNAs/various other healthcare professionals spend their life taking care of us. If you have never been in a hospital let me just tell you they do a bunch of stuff that I wouldn't/couldn't do for any amount of money. They are with people during their most vulnerable times...even if you are in the hospital for something happy like a baby...it is still a hard/gross/demanding job. On top of it they see illness and death daily...and they help the patients' family as well. So even though they get paid...they still need to be told how much they are appreciated.

Loaded Up

Loaded Up

Well, you or your loved ones don't have to be hospitalized to be thankful. You can reach out to whoever you see that may need a little sunshine. Do you want to put together a "thank you" or a care package for someone too?

Here are some tips...

  • Find a container.- I love a good wicker/wood/metal basket, but since these particular "bucket of treats" are going to a group of people I didn't want them to fight...that could get ugly, plus the deep plastic bins hold a ton of things. 
  • Pick Out the Fixings.-Since this going to a variety of people that I don't know I just got a ton different things. Salty, sweet, healthy, junky...all of it. I tried to find things that were either individually wrapped, could be resealed, or that were large enough to share. 
  • Merchandise.-Put the big and/or heavy things on the bottom and pack things around the base and then layer smaller and fragile things on top. Try to fan stuff out and make it look nice. But since this is jammed packed with food items...I focused more on function over form. 
  • Add a Card.-Just make sure you include a note of gratitude. 

Find someone to be thankful for this weekend and maybe put together a little care package of your own to share. 

Have a great weekend!

Finding the Beauty

Pretty Little Butterfly Doesn't Care About Whatever Crap Storm Your Life May be.

Pretty Little Butterfly Doesn't Care About Whatever Crap Storm Your Life May be.

Last night/early this morning I wrote the best blog post you ever read...you will just have to take my word for it, because around 1:45am I went to publish it and there was some sort glitch and it wouldn't save...it was all gone. You may be thinking to yourself, "Johanna didn't you save as you worked?" Well, I THOUGHT I did, but instead I think I was saving photos within the post. I hate when I am a dummy.

I was so upset and I started snowballing about ALL the stuff  I have to do today. I am starting a new fitness/lifestyle program, I have to unpack from Spring Break, I need to clean the house, I need to go the store, I need to get gas, I have to take the kids to school/appointments/sports...you know LIFE.

Look at these pictures...living out loud with mess! I have a friend that only comes over when we have parties and she was envious that we always looked put together and our house appeared clean. Sometimes the house is really clean...sometimes it LOOKS clean...sometimes it is all ape shit with mess. That vacuum has been in the front way longer than I care to admit. And yup, my son is eating breakfast right next to a cleaner bottle on a dirty table. And all that laundry...it is clean...just not folded and not put away. I got work to do.

So it is a bummer to do things over and over again. That is the hardest part about being a parent (for me) is the monotony. You cook, you clean, you organize, you run errands, you cart around kids...and you do it again and again and again. It can be hard and it can be especially hard when things go wrong. And things go wrong. You can set the best intentions and things can still go awry. But what you do in the face of those challenges is what makes you YOU.

Some of my life has been really hard...I got through because I saw no other choice...it was the way it was and you just have to get through it. However, if I have a choice...I can sometimes choose the easy route. One time I took a Women's Kickboxing class and I think this was before I had kids so I had a much different body then...one that should have been able to do kickboxing. Well, from the second I stepped into class (which was on a boxing ring) we were moving and conditioning ourselves. It was stinking brutal. I was hurting almost immediately and I was dehydrated and I was miserable. So midway through the class the instructor let us have a little break and I ran. I seriously grabbed my stuff and booked it out of the room and was heading straight to my car. As soon as I was outdoors I realized I had parked my car right by the windows of the classroom. So I crouched down to run and get in my car. The class was hard and instead of seeing what I could do, I humiliated myself trying to get to my car, to get far away. 

If something is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, an excuse.
— Unknown

So I am trying to not take the easy way out when things are hard. I am finishing the blog post late, but it will be done, I will exercise today, and do some of my mom chores...I may not get to all the cleaning up today, but that is okay. I will do what is important to me. 

One thing that is important to me is to fast craft...like for reals, it brings me joy and joy is a priority. So today let's add a little color and a little happy to our life for Making it Monday...



First you need your supplies...

  • Branch-Any branch will do. This branch was the one I found at the beach at the beginning of Spring Break. 
  • Pom Poms-Get little ones or big ones...whatever look you are seeking! I really wanted pastel Pom Poms for an Easter vibe, but I could only find very vibrant ones. Annnnd I didn't care enough to drive around and get a different pack. 
  • Glue Gun and Glue Sticks-I have a low temp, little glue gun and I used some glitter glue sticks, but it doesn't really matter if you use regular ones or glitter ones.
STEP 1: Pom Pom Supplies

STEP 1: Pom Pom Supplies

Step 1

Collect yo supplies! Just put a little glue on the branch. It was easier to kind of "sandwich" the dap of glue with two Pom Poms. 

STEP 2: Glue on the Pom Poms

STEP 2: Glue on the Pom Poms

Step 2

Glue the Pom Poms all over. You may have to clean up some glue "strings," but other than that it is seriously a very easy project. Honestly, I may glue another bag of Pom Poms...maybe a different size. I think I would like it to be a little fuller. However, since my daughter wants this in her room I will let her decide. 

I think I am pretty happy with the end result. I wanted to do a Pom Pom tree to replace an Easter Egg Tree this year. Or maybe I will hang eggs from these branches.  This would be a fun project for Halloween too and do Halloween colors and instead of  cleaning up the glue "strings' leave them for a cobweb effect.

I love the little "pops" of color it provides. One of the reasons why I love to decorate, craft, and throw parties is to make the sweet parts of life even sweeter...to create some beauty in a world that sometimes it can be hard to see what is beautiful, what is good and what is joyful. Life can be brutal and unfair, but I hope you are able to see the beauty in it and in yourself...I will work on that too.

Life is hard, but so very beautiful.
— Abraham Lincoln

The Ties that Bind.

I adore these little Ladies.

I adore these little Ladies.

Spring break has been magical and yet it is kicking my booty! I feel like we have been in a whirlwind of nonstop commotion.

My husband was out of town for business Wednesday night, so I put the kids to bed and promptly fell asleep with them...accidentally of course. I woke up at 2 am and decided I should finish cleaning the house and pack since we were leaving town the next day (well, I guess technically the same day). I opened up the bedroom door and saw chaos and smelled poop. My dogs were locked in the bedroom (when dad is gone...everyone sleeps with me in my room...it is crazy, but it works for me). But right before bed, my daughter got up to get something and she locked the dogs OUT of the bedroom. It didn't go well. 

They had gotten into my new yarn (so much yarn in so many places), they tore apart two bags of garbage I was going to take out, and they had our clothes all over that I was going to pack for the trip. Both dogs looked at me with excitement like I might want to join in the fun. I declined the invitation. Instead I crated them and cleaned up the mess. Oh and the poop smell? One of the dogs pooped in the house. (I am not naming names, but it may have been the gross, spaz  dog.) However, before I got to work with what I really got up to do...the dishes, packing, taking the garbage out...I decided to flip the script for a moment. So instead I put some essential oils in the diffuser, I started a Golden Girls episode (you know I did), and I did what I love...I did some fast crafting. 

Okay, before you read any further you may want to stop if you are a knitting purest. I love knitting...all kinds of knitting, but really my favorite is loom knitting because it is basically instant gratification. Now, you may be poo-pooing this method, but you really can make some great things this way. In the middle of the night I made a baby hat and some baby legwarmers. I have a bunch of babies in my world right now, so it was the perfect little break for me and I was able to make a gift for someone we love super fast.

My secret.

My secret.

So in about an hour I whipped up a sweet little knitted set. Now I am not going to make a tutorial (why am I so mean?), but are ton of resources online...Google loom knitting and you will be set. If you are a visual learner there are a million videos or if you learn best by reading there are several sites that will give you tutorials. They can do a far better job teaching/demonstrating this technique than I. 

The rhythm of knitting can be so rewarding. You cast on and row by row you are making something. For me, row by row I am giving up something...my anger towards my dogs, forgetting about a hard day or hard feelings, whatever is ailing me at the time. It is meditative for me and once again something so mundane helps teach us about life. 

Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.
— Elizabeth Zimmermann

One of the things we did for spring break was a meet up with some of my friends...mommies need play dates too! One of my nearest and my dearests has two little girls. It is so fun to watch our kids forge their own new relationships. They are legit friends...they are second generation friends. Reminds me about knitting, the loom kinds AND the regular kind; these relationships build off of one another...the new row needs the first row. I never thought my relationship with my friends could get better, but when you add these new little beings into the picture and the relationships they make with our friends and with each other...it really puts it at new level. Like when you get the hang of knitting and you all of a sudden can do more than just a scarf...the basics gave you the foundation to build upon.

Just as my kids have these "aunt" and "uncles' and these lifelong friendships...so is the case for my husband and I. There were "rows" before us. My husband recently lost one of his "aunts"...a woman who was not blood, but who was every bit family. She was an amazing woman. She made you feel  so important when you had a conversation with her. She was attentive and soooooo smart...if you had the pleasure to talk with her you undoubtedly were smarter and a better person from doing so. Her joy for life was infectious. And to see the love between her and her partner of a lifetime was awe inspiring. And he is the first person that all of us thought about when we first heard about this devastating loss, because he is still here and without his soulmate. Life is so beautiful, but can be so cruel.

Not only does her loss cut so deeply it reminds us of our own season of life. Our kids will feel these sort of losses with our besties. But the relationships they are making together with the next generation of friends will hopefully allow them to walk that path together when the time comes. Time (and that loom) keep on turning. We just need to enjoy the ride, pay attention to our rows we are knitting, and love our people. 

In life, as in knitting, don’t leave loose ends. Take the time to thank the people who matter in your life.
— Reba Linker

Making Memories

In Oregon we are on spring break and we are traveling so our Make it Monday is going to be a tad different today. 

The Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast

I don't know about you, but I am always looking around to get inspiration...

  • Inspiration on how to decorate/paint/remodel our house.
  • Inspiration on what to make/craft/sew for fun or for gifts.
  • Inspiration on what to cook/eat/grow for our family or to share. 

By inspiration, I mean totally copying...I am super nosey and I want to know what people are doing and how they are doing it. That is why I love Pinterest...I get to see so much stuff and learn how to do it! So this weekend I have been collecting...collecting images, collecting found objects, collecting memories. 

What can I make with the perfect branch?

What can I make with the perfect branch?

This weekend we were in Yachats, Oregon. It is a lovely little town on the Oregon Coast. It was a little less lovely this weekend because it was so cold and stormy. It was not the sunny and warm beach vacation that you may imagine if you don't live in the Pacific Northwest. If you live here, you get what the weather was like in March...freezing and soaking wet. But it is the coast and the ocean is magical no matter what. 

We came to see my mother-in-law, our kiddo's Nonna. She is getting ready to sell her home. We came to have a last "goodbye" to this place, to get my husband's childhood piano, and have a mini Spring Break getaway. 

My father-in-law died a few years ago and my mother-in-law has been alone in this huge home. Yachats is pretty far away from all of her family. This move is bittersweet for the entire family. My husband and his siblings grew up in this home. And my husband has brought the family he has created back here every 4th of July to be in the town parade. This is place where you can see and feel my husband's dad and our kids grandfather, Papa Grand. So being here is very special. But my mother-in-law is still very much alive and she deserves to live and to live a life that brings her joy (and maybe a little closer to all of us). 

I took this photo on the drive down.

I took this photo on the drive down.

Home is where the heart is...where your people are...but it is still so difficult to walk away from a place that you made so many memories. So today I am thinking about how we make memories and how we make stuff and how the two intercept. 

My family is always making something...Legos, doll houses, forts, cookies, woodworking, messes...always something. No one is just chill and hangs out...like at all. Being on vacation is no different. When we are here the kids nearly always sew something with their grandmother. This time my son made a Christmas tablecloth with napkin rings and Nonna and my daughter made a little apron out of two fat quarters.

Beach Sewing

Beach Sewing

The apron and the tablecloth are very sweet, but what is even better is the memories that they are making together. The kids will remember making things with their grandma. They will remember that Nonna let them use the sewing machine and the iron and how that made them feel so proud and grown up. When you create, you are making memories...you are making memories during the creation and you are making the foundation of memories to come in the product. We have bought several aprons and tablecloths...they won't/don't mean the same as the ones they made this weekend.

The whole house in Yachats was created by this family. They literally built their home from the ground up. They made it all as a family. The memories that have been made here are too numerous to count. But they don't need this physical space to have those memories...those memories are woven into the fabric of who they are. See my husband can make anything...he works on our own home to make it better, he does metalwork and woodwork, he designs and draws...he fixes, creates, and makes things. Those qualities are a part of him. The place he helped build also built him. They are intertwined. 

Some of the best things we can do for our kids is to create with them. You are teaching them skills and how to use their minds in different ways, sure, but you are also doing so much more. Not crafty? No biggie, here are some suggestions that are also spring friendly...maybe you will find a good fit.

  • Make a some food together...a meal, a pie, some bread, anything goes. 
  • Plant seeds to grow vegetables or a flowers.
  • Build a raised bed garden or start a container garden.
  • Paint a picture (do a paint by number if you have to).
  • Sew...napkins, aprons, a tablecloth, curtains, whatever you want. 
  • Knit (you can even finger knit or loom knit).
  • Draw together.
  • Write a poem.
  • Decorate some plain napkins or a tablecloth with fabric paint.
  • Build a bird house.
  • Go to a paint-it-yourself pottery place.
  • Make some jewelry.
  • Make something out of Legos.
  • Color a coloring book.
  • Write a story.
  • Redecorate a room with your kid's input/help.
  • Make a play.
  • Sing a song you make up together. 
  • Design your own comic book. 
  • Paint a room in your house.
  • Build a fort.
  • Decorate for Easter/Spring.

So for Make it Monday, make some memories with the ones you love. Go out together into the world, gather some inspiration and supplies, and get busy creating. And if you are able...get to the ocean...it is so good for your soul. 

Dog Person?

Some people are either dog people or cat people...I guess there are "no animal at all" people. I don't particularly trust the last category of people. Just sayin. Listen, animals can be annoying and dirty and just plain gross, BUT they make us better humans by showing us unconditional love, understanding, and acceptance. And BTW they are a freaking miracle. I think it is so crazy that we share this earth with so many different species. It is mind boggling...clearly we need to do more to be better stewards of this land and to do right by the other beings we live with...but that is for another conversation. 

Today I am going to tell you a story.  My husband, Marko, didn't grow up with dogs. His family had the occasional black cat that adopted them, but that was it. So when I met my husband, he wasn't super hip to the dog scene and I had a dog. Oh, what a dog he was! I had an elderly Yorkshire Terrier named Obie. Obie was an asshole. Really there is no other way to say it. Look I LOVED him with every ounce of my being, but I would never say he was a sweet or a good dog, but we had been together since I was 16 years old so we were really in it together. It was a love/hate relationship...for us both. 

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
— Roger Caras
The one and only Obie.

The one and only Obie.

When Marko first met my dog I went to his apartment (the future husband's not the dog's...that would have been an even crazier story though I suppose). I sat my little 8 lb dog on the futon that served as the couch. Marko looked at me dead in the eye and said that animals do not go on the furniture. I wasn't having that because I had Obie and I had a cat and they both were on my furniture...also, I do not like being told what to do or what not to do. Well, apparently Obie worked his magic on Marko and flash forward a few months he and Obie were sitting on the said futon sharing an ice cream cone together. So cute...and gross.

Obie was such a huge part of my life. Nearly all of my friends dog-sat him at some point. One dear friend in particular put him in the backyard and promptly lost the dog. The dog was found, but there were some serious conversations if our friendship would survive such a circumstance. Another two of my besties who watched Obie regularly, finally had to stop watching him because he was and an old little curmudgeon and straight pooped in their car on the driver's side seat. What a little jerk!

Obie lived another several years with the hubby and myself. Obie died when he was 16 years old in our bed in between my husband and I when I was about 5 months pregnant...and I was 32 years old. At the time, I had Obie half of my life. I found him on Black Friday morning, my husband got up early to go buy a tv with his brother. When I woke up at o-dark-thirty. I saw Obie and I just knew he was gone...my husband confirmed it and he took care of everything.

While I was devastated and I still think of that crappy little dog nearly every day of my life...I am thankful it all ended the way it did. He was training us to be a parent. He was up all night, making messes, entertaining us, and making sure we were sleep deprived. We got him a crate a few days before he died to keep him contained while we were gone...his death was his final middle finger to us. And Obie would have been a horrible animal brother to our son and that little dog died getting to be on the furniture. 

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.
— Agnes Sligh Turnbul

Do you have some animals that you loved (or hated)? Do you have ones that shaped who you are? We have two dogs right now and I think about the relationship those dogs have with my kids and the benefits that relationship has on both of them.


They call it puppy love.

They call it puppy love.

Currently we have the two dogs (and a fish). Some years we have a lot more animals, some years we have a lot less animals. We have a 150 lb German shepherd name Duke. He LOVES the kids. I mean, not your kids...but ours. And we have June who is a Wiredhaired Pointing Griffon. She loves everyone and every thing and ALWAYS smells like poop...I mean, there are so many causes of this problem...I can't even. But these two sweet beings are teaching our children about responsibility, about compassion, and about love in ways we frankly can't teach them as effecively. They have their own "Obies."

Harvard Health Publications states the most obvious benefits of pet ownership are love and companionship. Heck, even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) talk about the health benefits of animal ownership.  Crazy, right?

According to the CDC here are the health benefits for having a family pet...

  • Pet ownership can lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels
  • Having a pet can help conquer battle feelings of loneliness.
  • Pet ownership provides opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
  • Opportunities for socialization (for you and the pet.)
June the grossest sweetie.

June the grossest sweetie.

Enjoy Dog Day!

  • Meet up with a dog.-If you have a dog, love on that dog like a fool. And if you aren't dog people, stretch your comfort level and find a dog in your hood to be friends with or at least say "hi" to.  Love the dogs you have in your life. 
  • Make your dog a treat.-You can look online for recipes to makes treats, you can make them a blanket, or build them a house (maybe you are hella handy). Whatever it is do something to show the pooch in your world that you love them. 
  • Donate to local animal shelter.-Whether or not you have a dog, donate to a shelter in your area. See what their needs are...maybe they need food, or certain supplies (blankets or dog beds), or donate your time. Some shelters want help socializing with the dogs. 
  • Get a check up.-Make sure your dog is healthy. Take them to the vet regularly, keep them up to date on their vaccines, and watch for strange behavior. They can't tell you if something is up...you have to help them.
  • Go for a walk.-That dog guru Cesar Milan is all about walking dogs for all sorts of reasons...exercise, training, stress relief, establishing who is in charge of the pack, etc. 

I hope some day you find your "Obie." Have a doggone great weekend!


Working on the Chain Gang

I hope you had a great weekend. Mine was just perfection...we celebrated our wedding anniversary and my birthday. That was wonderful, but for the people in the Pacific Northwest...the very best part was that we had sun for a whole day. We have had a wet, long winter so we really savor those sunny moments. Today is the first day of Spring so while it may not happen today or even this week...we can look forward to some more sunny days on their way. 

Paper chain gang

Paper chain gang

For today's Make it Monday we are going to make something so easy that can bring such joy...perfect for the season. We are making paper chains! Why do paper chains? These super simple decorations actually are quite deceptive. They canhelp teach some complex information. 

Paper chains can help make any room seem festive. When I was a kid I remember making them for the Christmas tree. Or you can do what these amazing people did in the pictures below. 

I never even thought of paper chains for a a backdrop, a garden party, or for a wedding. But just pick out your colors for you even and get to working. The more  you have the bigger statement you are making. 

But paper chains can also help teach math or help kids (or grown ups) learn about different concepts like kindness or about emotions. Paper chains are great ways to show how things are linked together. (Just a helpful tip: if you click on the pictures above it will take you to the source of the picture or if you click on any word that looks like this it will take. you to a link. You can then see examples of things we are talking about. I mean, you probably already knew that, but just a little reminder. I want to make sure you are getting the whole enchilada! Okay now back to the fine art of making paper chains.)

The reason why I love paper chains is not just because they are adorable, but because they are so helpful of marking time for children (and adults). They are a concrete physical representation of a pretty abstract concept. Tell your kid something is happening in a few months or show them how many days that is and what it looks like. We did this for our son when I was pregnant with our daughter...we made a long chain that he could take one paper chain off a day or if we forgot (which of course we did)  we would do several at a time. It is just such a great and simple way to build excitement and to show how time "looks."

We are going to Disneyland (thanks Nana for an awesome Christmas gift)! We don't take many "big" vacations...we are hard core staycationers...we are on one income so it isn't always feasible to do a large vacation and where we live it takes just a little time to get to the coast, the mountains, or a desert l location so we travel locally. So Disneyland is a pretty big deal for us and it will be the first time either of our kids have gone. So we are counting down the days. You can see lots of adorable Disney countdowns on Pinterest. Let's make some of our own!

Paper chain supplies

Paper chain supplies

First you need your supplies...

  • Paper-You could go old school and do construction paper, but for a more polished look and honestly for a little more durability a nice cardstock or some fancy scrapbooking paper (with card stock weight) would be great. 
  • Scissors or a Paper Cutter-You could do scissors or a paper cutter...I did a paper cutter, because I want the least amount of work...I am lazy.
  • Stapler and Staples-Do not use tape or glue...I mean, you can, but why would you do that? Just staple it...it is soooooo much easier and faster and once again it will be much more durable. 
  • Ribbon, Clips, etc. (optional)-You will want something to hold the chain up, unless you have it laying out somewhere. 

Step 1:  Get your stuff

Step 1: Get your stuff

Step 1

Collect all your supplies. I chose "Disney" style paper. I mean, it wasn't in the 10 for a $1 pile that I wanted to shop from, but I don't think it was crazy for a $1 a sheet. Plus if you go to Jo-Ann's or Michaels you better be using your coupons on your phone (or from the paper if you get it)...if you aren't you are just throwing money away. Sorry, that sounds harsh, but I am only looking out for you. 

  Step 2:  Cut it out

 Step 2: Cut it out

Step 2

Cut your paper. You need it long enough to make a loop, staple it, and to put another piece a paper through. You can make the strips just a about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick or make giant ones or really thin ones...any little changes you make will make totally different looks. 

Step 3:  Loop and staple

Step 3: Loop and staple

Step 3

Staple loops. Staple a circle...put a strip through...staple that into a circle...and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Have your kids help. You probably made these as a kid. This is actually a fun project to do together. 

Step 4:  Hang it up

Step 4: Hang it up

Step 4

Hang it up! I tied a ribbon to the top and it made a long chain that hung straight down. I thought it looked better looped so I just used a clip to connect it to the top where the ribbon is. I wanted to be able to access the end easily so the kids could take one down each day without much hassle. 

That is it! So easy!!! Right?!

But what a great metaphor...those links are us, baby...we are all interlocked and connected...not with paper and with staples, but as individuals who are connected with our geography, our interactions, and with our love. So let's get back to the basics whether it is with crafts or our relationships. It seems so simple, but it means so much...see how you can connect today. And maybe make some pretty little chains to countdown things that you are looking forward to...a trip, seeing a loved one, a big moment at work, etc. Or just make some pretty spring themed paper chains to decorate.

Happy, happy spring! 

Stamping Taters

If you checked out Posing as Parents on Friday, we wrote "thank you" notes. Well, how about we make our own cards for Making it Monday?

My husband and the boy have been working on carving linoluem stamps, but I thought we would go a tad more basic...and by a tad...I am talking straight up elementary. We are getting a potato and cutting it up and dipping it in paint. That is it! 

Now doesn't that sound easy? Turns out this project would have gone a lot better if I would have had my son who is in elementary school do this. He would have done a MUCH better job at this. But then again, he is hella crafty. I am going to do this project again with my kids. Sometimes I get so focused on making something I don't include the kids as well as I should. This was one of those projects for me. 

I have a couple of ideas why I struggled making my vision come to life...I free handed the design. You can use a cookie cutter to make a design and cut around the cookie cutter to make the stamp. In hindsight, I probably should have done that, but since I love to fast craft, I couldn't take time for that step. And my other problem I definitely had not the best quality of paints. As a parent, it seems like my kids get into EVERYTHING I own. I used to have a ton of acrylic and chalk paints and they are all gone. Turns out I really should check out my supplies before I start a project. Does that happen to you?

First you need your supplies...

  • Potato-Any ol' potato with do! I used one that looked a little rough...who cares, you aren't eating it. 
  • Blank Cards or Cardstock-You can totally make your own cards with some cardstock...sometimes I do that. But really it is soooo easy just to get a pack of blank cards and envelopes at your favorite craft store. 
  • Knife-Use whatever knife you want to use for carving. 
  • Paint or Stamp Pad-I used acrylic, but chalk paint or finger paint would be good too. Or if you are doing this craft project with kids you could use a stamp pad...less mess for sure!
  • Cookie Cutter (optional)-Use a small enough cookie cutter to fit on the potato. 

Step 1: Supplies-Impressive, Right?

Step 1: Supplies-Impressive, Right?

Step One

Collect all your supplies.

Step 2: Make the Stamp

Step 2: Make the Stamp

Step Two

Cut the potato in half. Cut a design or use cookie cutter to make a design (remember: use a cookie cutter to make a design and cut around the cookie cutter to make the stamp). 

Step 3: Stamping it Up

Step 3: Stamping it Up

Step Three

Before you really dive in, wipe the moisture off your potato with a paper towel. This helps keep the paint on. Dip, paint on, or stamp the stamp (that is a weird instruction), but do whatever is applicable to your situation. You may want to a test stamp first. And then go crazy!

Step 4: Make the Cards

Step 4: Make the Cards

Step Four

Just stamp your cards any way you want and you are done. But before you go off and make your cards. I want you to feel okay if they don't turn out the way you want. I had a lot I didn't love. That happens...with all crafts, with recipes, and with life. But you can make the most out of the times that aren't your favorite. So below was a "mess up" that I dressed up into happy little mice. This one will be a hit with the kids...that is best anyways. 

Little Mice Mess Ups   

Little Mice Mess Ups


Have a great Monday!

I Could Totally Make That

Have you gone to a boutique or some fun shop and looked around at all the adorable things and thought "I could totally make that"? I do that...like all the time. I always thought it would be fun to have a store called "You Could Do It...But You Won't" and have it filled with the types of crafts, jewelry, art, etc. that you could totally make, but that you won't. (BTW I call dibs on that idea.) But alas, most of the time I don't make whatever it is and I just buy it or I go without. 

I have seen these precious little tissue tassle things all over and I while they aren't expensive they are enough that I thought I could make them for next to nothing and for little effort. And can I just say that these sort of things just make life fun? You may think, "why take the time?" Why not take the time?! You can churn these babies out quickly. 

Party Tip: 

Banners and pendants instantly make for festive decor. 

Tiny Tissue Paper Tassels

Tiny Tissue Paper Tassels

So I pulled out the tissue paper and some string and got to work for Making it Monday

First you need your supplies...

  • Tissue Paper-Any tissue paper you want. Metallic would be so lovely, perhaps a pattern...seriously any paper you choose is just dandy. 
  • Scissors-You already know about my lovely scissors (well, if you read I'm Your Puppet). But any ol' scissors will do!
  • Baker's Twine, Ribbon, Yarn-The sky is the limit. I used all three. I am extravagant. . 
  • Washi Tape (optional)-I would have totally used this for today's project, but wouldn't you know it I can't find one stinking roll in my house. #mykidsstealmystuff

SUpplies (Give or Take)

SUpplies (Give or Take)

Step One

Collect all your supplies.


Step 2

Fold your tissue paper.

You can use a full sheet of tissue paper or even little scraps...the idea is the same. Fold the tissue in half over and over again. Once you get the paper to a small size fold it in half (the other way). Then cut the tissue into long skinny fringes and then twist the top of the tassel.

Step 3

Twist and stop. Twist and tape. Twist and tie. 

You can do this step several ways.

  • You can twist the top and leave it. If the tassels are small enough they should just stay just fine. (The larger tassels need a little more support.)
  • You can wrap the "neck" of the tassel with washi tape. I would demonstrate it, but we have already discussed the great washi heist of 2017. You can probably guess how to do it.
  • Lastly, you can tie baker's twine, ribbon, or yarn around the top. You can just do a simple tie or wrap the top of the tassel. 

Step 4

Hang it up!

Now just string the tassels with the twine, ribbon, or yarn. I like to tie the tassels on the string so they stay where I want them...I am controlling that way. So little tassels or big tassels...decorate as you like! 

Unsatisfied Customer

Unsatisfied Customer

Unfortunately, these adorable little tassels don't make everyone happy. Look at this sourpuss! She wanted a pink tassel NOT this silly purple one. I hope you have more success! 

I'm Your Puppet

Today we are going to be Making it Monday. I am going to show you one of my favorite crafts...finger puppets. 

Finger puppets have been my go-to Valentine for preschool...typically there aren't that many kids in preschool classes so it is perfect for fast crafting. Remember fast crafting doesn't mean something isn't lovely...it just means you did it quickly.

First you need your supplies...

  • Felt -You can get the felt squares you find at the craft store OR you can get some nice wool felt that you find at the fabric store on bolts. I get nice felt if it is a gift or it is something I really care about If not, I just grab the sheets. 
  • Scissors-I have some fabric scissors that my thoughtful husband got me, but those things are freaking deadly. The first week (maybe the first day) I had them I cut off the tippy top of my finger. I wish I was being dramatic...it is the truth. So for crafts I mainly use these stainless steel scissors that I found at a retirement center's thrift shop. They make me happy thinking about who may have used these before me and the bonus is they don't maim me. But if you just got your scissors at Target...that is cool too. 
  • Thread-I like to use Heavy Duty thread. I used to use embroidery thread, but honestly I don't LOVE how it handles. Seriously, I am sure it is user error (story of my freaking life). I also use a lot of black thread...I think I like how it makes the puppets look like a drawing, but obviously choose what you like. 
  • Fabric Glue (optional)

Step One

Collect all your supplies.



Step 2

Cut your fabric.

This might make some of you nuts, BUT I don't measure and I freehand cut the designs. I don't do this because I am an expert...sometimes this is a horrible choice, but it is how I work (fast crafting). However, I usually cut a square about 2.5X2.5 inches (give or take) and then I keep cutting from there.  Remember you need two pieces of the shape...a front and a back. If you use a standard sheet of felt you could easily get 3 or more puppets from that sheet. Also, you can totally find shapes online and trace them onto the felt.



Step 3

Sew the details on first.

You can also stuff the head with batting if you want a fuller look. Sew the two pieces together unless you want to do Step 4...go read it and decide. 



Step 4

Optional: Add a layer.

If feeling the strings on your finger will make you crazy just cut another piece of felt the same shape as your other two pieces and you can glue it and the top felt piece together. Just stitch all around the shape (besides the bottom...that is where your would put your finger in).




Step 5

Trim it up.

After everything is all sewed together I go around the felt one last time and give it a trim. And then you are done! It is an easy peasy project that will take you about 30 minutes to an hour from start to finish.




Hope you enjoyed our first Making it Monday. Come back soon!